SRINAGAR: Massive protests have broken out in parts of south Kashmir after an engineering student, who reportedly joined militancy soon after the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani, was shot dead early today.

According to Jammu and Kashmir Police, Basit Rasool, a resident of Marhama village of Anantnag district in south Kashmir, was killed in a gunfight in Bevoora-Hadigam village of Dachnipora belt of south Kashmir's Bijbehara.

"A group of militants were asked to stop by a police party in Bevoora-Hadigam. The militants opened fire which was effectively retaliated. One militant was killed while another managed to escape," police sources said.

Family sources said Basit was pursuing B Tech from Islamic University of Science and Technology in Awantipora before joining militancy some four months ago, soon after the killing of Burhan Wani.

Sources said police and security agencies had asked Basit's family to convince their son to surrender, but in vain. They said Basit's father, who works as a manager in J&K Bank, had also tried to bring his son back but to no avail.

"I vividly remember how we used to steal snacks from each others bags at school. As if it was yesterday. Today you are a 'martyr' #Bijbehara," one of Basit's classmates posted on Twitter.

"You did it. You finally did it. You died a free man. Rest in power comrade. #Bijbehara #Kashmir," he said in another tweet.

Soon after the news of the killing spread, massive protests erupted in and around Bijbehara area. According to witnesses, agitated people took to streets in Bijbehara, Kanelwan, Bewoora and Srigufwara area and staged anti-India and pro-freedom protests.

Thousands of people gathered at the residence of the deceased in Marhama to get a glimpse of the militant. Witnesses said the body of the militant was mutilated in the reported exchange of gunfire and it has been handed over to the family.

"A sea of people has converged at a ground near his home and funeral prayers are being held amid severe anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. The atmosphere is very tense. People are very angry. Namaz-e-Jinazah has been held thrice and more people are gathering," one of the protesters told The Citizen over phone.

Recently, J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had asked the security forces to encourage the young boys, who have joined militancy recently, to surrender and also chalk out a rehabilitation program for them.

Meanwhile, authorities have suspended mobile phone services in several areas of north Kashmir's Sopore following an encounter in Bomai area where a suspected militant is believed to be holed up.

According to police, mobile telephony services were temporarily suspended "to stop rumours about the encounter from deteriorating the law and situation". The army and police have cordoned off Bomai area after inputs about the presence of militants and the exchange of gunfire is on.

(Cover Photograph: File Picture by BASIT ZARGAR)